Student Profile

Kaylani McCard
MFA Design, UC Davis

Kaylani J. McCard (also known as Kaylani Juanita) is a freelance picture book illustrator and writer. She’s known for winning a Coretta Scott King Honors for her Illustrations in MAGNIFICENT HOMESPUN BROWN, as well as a Stonewall book award for WHEN AIDAN BECAME A BROTHER. Some of her clients include Chronicle Books, Tilbury House, Lee and Low, and many more. Her focus is counter storytelling based on her experience as a biracial Black woman. Kaylani strives to create new ways for people to imagine themselves.

In 1990 Rudine Sims Bishop said, “[On children’s books,] Children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they can see themselves and windows through which they can see the world.” Children are more perceptive than given credit. They’re constantly absorbing, considering, and perpetuating all the media they’re exposed to; specifically, I’d like to focus on children’s literature. A child’s capacity to learn is impressive, which is why we should deeply consider the stories we tell children. Through my research on children’s literature and analysis using critical race theory, I plan on designing a picture book that encourages children to think about Black representation, PTSD, and (de)militarization. Through a fairytale lens, I invite children to follow the story of a Black family with a little boy whose older brother is a disabled veteran. They live in a world where hair is made of plants, and PTSD manifests as thorns.  Hopefully, I can create a mirror for children to see a sense of self-autonomy and a window of empathy towards people with PTSD.

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